Expats do not have to be wealthy to switch their money to an offshore bank or building society.
The stigma of offshore comes from individuals trying to evade taxes by not reporting their earnings from offshore accounts.
But hundreds of thousands of people send money around the world through offshore intermediaries every day without a problem.
Although some offshore banks have a poor reputation, the service provided by the majority is important to the financial well-being of expats.
You know you are banking offshore when you have an account that is based in a country where you do not live.
Offshore branches going under
A tax crackdown led by the USA and Europe coupled with poor rates of interest paid by offshore banks has led to demand for the service shrinking.
Thousands of British expats need offshore banking but are finding money laundering regulations a problem.
The rules mean UK banks and credit card providers do not want expat customers, so are closing their accounts. The expats still need a bank, but many have closed leaving them high and dry.
A few well known British banks still have offshore branches, including Santander, NatWest, Lloyds and Barclays. Ireland’s Permanent, along with Standard Life and Kleinwort Benson also offer some expat services.
Most are based in Gibraltar, the Isle of Man or Channel Islands.
Opening offshore bank accounts
Offshore bank accounts are opened direct with the branches or through their UK high street networks.
The rules are the same as in the UK. The bank will want to identify you, confirm an address and seek a financial history to make sure you are not bankrupt or steeped in bad credit.
They will ask about:
· Why you want to open an account
· The source of the money paid in, particularly if the sums are £10,000 or more
· Your future financial plans
Paying tax on offshore money
Too many investors and savers failed to report wealth they held offshore in a bid to minimize their tax – often by telling lies about their fortunes.
Everyone should report their holdings on an annual tax filing.
Two new international laws make hiding money and investments offshore almost impossible.
· The Foreign Account tax Compliance Act (FATCA) covers more than 100 countries and thousands of overseas financial institutions.
The financial institution must pass a report of any accounts controlled by American customers to the Internal Revenue Service each year.
The rules apply to any offshore accounts worth $50,000 or more held by US residents. The bar is raised to $200,000 for US expats.
· The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) works in the same way as FATCA, but rather than lots of countries reporting to the US, around 50 nations send financial information between each other. Unlike FATCA, the CRS has no reporting threshold.
The information collected by the tax authorities is cross-checked against tax filings to make sure the correct details of overseas accounts have been reported.
Deposit safeguards for expat cash
Protecting your money should a bank go to the wall is vital due to the sometimes huge sums concerned.
Onshore, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) offers protection on across all accounts held by one bank for the same consumer up to £85,000.
Offshore banks have different compensation schemes depending where they are – outside Europe safeguards are rare, while centres such as Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have developed their own.
However, the rules are different for each, so make sure money on deposit is not over-exposed.
Foreign currency accounts
Expats can open foreign currency accounts with UK offshore banks – generally in Sterling, US dollars or euros.
A good rule of thumb is to have an account denominated in your local currency to avoid losing money if exchange rates move too much.
Expats transferring money overseas
Moving money overseas with a bank can cost a fortune, but specialist money transfer firms are willing to do the job for much less.
Disruptive technology firms, such as TransferWise or the new expat app deVere e-Money Vault have made the process quicker, cheaper and easier.
Services like these can handle one-off or regular transfers direct from the bank through a smartphone.
Another difference is the exchange rate and transfer cost.
Many banks and bureau de change advertise fee-free transfers, but adjust the currency exchange rate to collect a margin on the deal. That’s why the rate on a receipt is different from the advertised rates posted by the financial media.
Logically, if the transfer was really free, the provider could not keep trading.
The key is study any written estimate carefully and look for lots of small, unexplained charges that look innocuous but bump up the cost.
Tracking down the best exchange rate
Searching for the best exchange rate is a waste of effort. Most firms claim they cannot publish them anyway as they change so quickly.
It’s better to look at the bottom of the quote or receipt for the amount of foreign currency you are getting from the transaction.
A professional money transfer firm should give information in writing covering:
· The exchange rate
· Any fees or other charges
· A reference number
· Details of how to collect the money transfer and if the operator receiving the cash makes any charge
· How long the transfer will take and the final cost
It’s a good idea to ask if the operator has enough foreign currency on hand to complete the transaction right away.
Is your cash safe during a money transfer?
The UK financial compensation scheme does not cover money exchange services, but companies transferring more than £2.5 million a month into foreign currencies must be authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
They must have a client money protection scheme to separate your cash from that in the business.
The protection scheme will safeguard some money transfers.
Check if the compensation paid is restricted and if sending smaller amounts would give improved protection.
Smaller operators will say they are registered with the FCA, but this offers no formal consumer protection.
The FCA lists registered firms online
Cheapest money transfer options
Try sending regular payments overseas through an offshore account with an international branch of your bank or building society.
As a customer, the bank may preferential rates.
Sending emergency cash overseas
In an emergency, the money transfer services provided by MoneyGram and Western Union are expensive but fast.
If you can hang on for 24-hours, other services will certainly work out cheaper.
Both services have thousands of outlets in newsagents, post offices and small stores.
The cost can be eye-watering – transferring £1,000 from the UK to Sweden may be as much as £85.
Blues extraordinaire and island native Hamilton Loomis is returning home this spring to conduct a two-day blues harmonica workshop at Galveston College, and he wants you in on the action.
“It’s just for fun, there’s no red pens and you don’t get a grade,” Loomis said of the workshop on April 24-25 at the college, 4015 Ave. Q. “The great thing about the harmonica is that it’s user-friendly.''
“Ultimately, what I want them to get out of it is not only just picking up a new instrument, but to have an understanding of its context in pop music and blues in general, and the history of the instrument,” he said.
Indeed, Loomis’ love of The Blues has taken him on the ride of his life. At age 14, he was writing, arranging and performing his own music. He found himself in the sights of blues icons Bo Diddley, Johnny Copeland, Albert Collins and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, who took him under their wing.
“Growing up in Galveston, I dreamed of playing The Balinese Room which was part of Galveston’s history,” he said.
Operated by Sicilian immigrant barbers-turned-bootleggers Sam and Rosario Maceo, the Balinese Room was an elite spot in the 1940s and 1950s (Galveston's open era), featuring entertainment by Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Peggy Lee and The Marx Brothers.
The venue, which extended over the Gulf of Mexico at 2107 Seawall Blvd., was destroyed by Hurricane Ike on Sept. 13, 2008. Indeed, The Balinese Room was a pop culture icon; ZZ Top even wrote and performed a song about the club called, “Balinese.”
Loomis said that one of the highlights of his career was performing at the historic nightclub. In fact, he played there almost a dozen times before its demise.
“Growing up in Galveston as a young musician you dream of playing there, and when it becomes a reality it’s so satisfying, and at the same time very humbling and gratifying,” Loomis said. “I feel totally honored to have been able to a part of that history and to share that history.”
Loomis is doing his part to keep The Blues going strong, and the harmonica workshop at Galveston College is a big step in that direction. It’s a great chance for music lovers 12 and up to get some hands-on training from one of the best.
People aren’t actually saying that every cloud has an unencrypted lining but they are saying that every website protected by the online security service Cloudflare has been leaking encrypted session and user data—including credit card numbers and passwords—for months now and that millions of affected website users should promptly change their passwords!
Cloudflare, which provides million of online servers/websites with firewall-like traffic-filtering to protect against malicious hacking exploits, such as distributed denial of service attacks, announced on February 23 that it had a long-standing internal memory leak flaw. Cloudflare called it a “parser bug”, while the Internet security community-at-large dubbed it “cloudbleed” for its similarity to the Heartbleed memory overflow bug of three years ago.
It’s comforting how everyone pays lip service to security
The memory leak flaw was brought to Cloudflare’s attention on February 17 by Tavis Ormandy from Google’s Project Zero, which is tasked with finding such hidden code flaws.
World’s platform for change asks you to change your password
Change.org, which hosts millions of online petitions and is one of Cloudflare’s clients, sent out the following vaguely worded email on Saturday (February 25) to all registered users (including myself) recommending that we all change our passwords immediately:
We want you to feel safe when using our services and we have been monitoring this situation closely to ensure it does not affect our users. If you are ever in doubt about the security of your accounts with us, feel free to contact Change·org directly through our Help Center.
In fact, no one is suggesting that there is any evidence that any of these potential memory leaks from hundreds of millions (if not billions) of encrypted web sessions have been exploited by anyone. But it’s a good idea to “refresh” your passwords every so often, regardless of external evidence.
You can cry “Heartbleed”, or “Wolf”, only so many times!
Three things can be assumed to happen as a result of this latest Internet security bug. Firstly, all website users affected will receive a direct notification advising them of the fact and recommending that they change their passwords.
Secondly, the memory leak bug will be fixed.
And thirdly, most Internet users will conclude that this latest dire warning of an Internet security flaw affecting millions and millions of users is much ado about nothing—just like every similar warning of the last few years (not to mention that “world-ending” Y2K bug of the year 2000).
After all, unlike a few of the malicious Microsoft Windows viruses and worms of yesteryear, which visibly destroyed data and took down bazillions of Windows computers, the high-profile software bugs of recent years have appeared to be mostly hype as far as end users are concerned.
The marketing of Internet flaws—but at whom?
Not to say that security flaws are not exploited by malicious coders. And yes, there is online identity theft and online credit card fraud aimed at individuals but the later two categories are very fuzzily documented—with no reliable numbers of actual consumer losses to online fraud.
The source of the problem – which was discovered accidentally by Google Project Zero bod, Tavis Ormandy – was a memory leak caused by a broken HTML parser chain.
However, it was compounded by the fact that leaked data was then cached by search engines.
The leaked data included “private information such as HTTP cookies, authentication tokens, HTTP POST bodies, and other sensitive data,” Cloudflare CTO, John Graham-Cumming explained in a lengthy blog post.
“We quickly identified the problem and turned off three minor Cloudflare features (email obfuscation, Server-side Excludes and Automatic HTTPS Rewrites) that were all using the same HTML parser chain that was causing the leakage. At that point it was no longer possible for memory to be returned in an HTTP response,” he added.
Although Graham-Cumming claimed the bug was fixed globally in under seven hours, it may have been leaking highly sensitive data for months.
“The greatest period of impact was from February 13 and February 18 with around one in every 3,300,000 HTTP requests through Cloudflare potentially resulting in memory leakage (that’s about 0.00003% of requests),” he added.
In fact, given the extent of the info cached by search engines, Cloudflare clients will now be under pressure to inform their own customers of the extent of the privacy snafu.
“The examples we're finding are so bad, I cancelled some weekend plans to go into the office on Sunday to help build some tools to cleanup. I've informed Cloudflare what I'm working on,” said Ormandy.
“I'm finding private messages from major dating sites, full messages from a well-known chat service, online password manager data, frames from adult video sites, hotel bookings. We're talking full https requests, client IP addresses, full responses, cookies, passwords, keys, data, everything.”
Although he praised Cloudflare for its response to the issue, it’s also true the firm’s bug bounty offers little in the way of rewards for white hat researchers – free t-shirts, rather than money.
Former Google click fraud boss and current Shape Security CTO, Shuman Ghosemajumder, argued that it is “one of the widest exposures of confidential and sensitive consumer data ever observed.”
“This incident has many people suggesting that everyone in the world should change all of their passwords immediately,” he said.
“The total exposure is likely not that large – i.e., not all of your passwords have been compromised – but the problem is that almost any one of your passwords on over four million websites could have been compromised, so the safest course of action is to act as though all of your passwords were compromised.”
Kaushik Narayan, CTO at Skyhigh Networks, analyzed over 30 million enterprise users worldwide and found 99.7% of companies have at least one employee that used a Cloudbleed vulnerable cloud application.
“This means hackers could have stolen user passwords for these cloud applications – and may even have access to session keys exposed, while a session is live. But this user-data also revealed another surprise – out of 128 enterprise-ready applications that could have been compromised, only four were vulnerable,” he added.
“Cloudbleed is the latest in a string of vulnerabilities that should be of concern to enterprise IT security and a reminder us of the problems caused by user password reuse across corporate services and personal web sites and cloud services.”
The web can be a great place, but not everyone online has good intentions. Here are three simple ways to avoid scammers and stay safe on the web:
Beware of strangers bearing gifts
A message is probably up to no good if it congratulates you for being a website’s millionth visitor, offers a tablet computer or other prize in exchange for completing a survey or promotes quick and easy ways to make money or get a job (“get rich quick working from your home for just two hours a day!”). If someone tells you that you’re a winner and asks you to fill out a form with your personal information don’t be tempted to start filling it out. Even if you don’t hit the “submit” button, you might still be sending your information to scammers if you start putting your data into their forms.
If you see a message from someone that you know that doesn’t seem like them, their account may have been compromised by a cyber criminal who is trying to get money or information from you – so be careful how you respond. Common tactics include asking you to urgently send them money, claiming to be stranded in another country or saying that their phone has been stolen so that they cannot be called. The message may also tell you to click on a link to see a picture, article or video, which actually leads you to a site that might steal your information – so think before you click!
Do your research
When shopping online, research the seller and be wary of suspiciously low prices just like you would if you were buying something at a local shop. Scrutinise online deals that seem too good to be true. No one wants to get tricked into buying fake goods. People who promise normally non-discounted expensive products or services for free or at 90% off probably have malicious intent. If you use Gmail, you may see a warning across the top of your screen if you’re looking at an email that our system says might be a scam – if you see this warning, think twice before responding to that email.
Watch out for scams using the Google brand. Google does not run a lottery. We do not charge training fees for new employees – if you receive an email saying that you have been hired by Google but have to pay a training fee before you can start, it is a scam. Watch out for people claiming to sell cars using Google Wallet. Find out more about various scams using the Google brand.
When in doubt, play it safe
Do you just have a bad feeling about an ad or an offer? Trust your gut! Only click on ads or buy products from sites that are safe, reviewed and trusted.
Many online shopping platforms have trusted merchants/sellers programs. These sellers typically have a visible stamp of approval on their profiles. Make sure that the stamp or certificate is legitimate by reviewing the shopping platforms’ guidelines. If the platform doesn’t offer a similar program, take a look at the number of reviews and the quality of reviews on the seller.
Because of the amount of money that consumers are expected to spend this Valentine’s Day on flowers, consumers can be certain that scammers and unscrupulous businesses will also be looking to benefit. To ensure that a Valentine’s Day bouquet is delivered as planned, follow these scam savvy tips:
- Let the BBB guide purchases. Research trusted florists and gift shops, check out customer reviews, and look for scams at bbb.org.
- Pick up the phone or visit the shop. Even if ordering online, visit or chat with the brick-and-mortar shop prior to making a purchase. Discuss the arrangement you are looking for, inquire about guarantees and ask about delivery times. Don’t make a payment until the order is clearly outlined and always ask for a receipt.
- Watch for unsolicited calls and emails. This time of year, phishing scams spike for those looking to treat loved ones with flowers and gifts. Fake e-cards can carry viruses, and unsolicited emails claiming to require additional funds for gift delivery are common.
Beware of Cupid Cons
The Internet’s ability to connect people through social media and online dating has been a godsend for many single folks. But with that convenience come opportunities for scammers to prey on the love-struck.
This is a common narrative with many Valentine’s Day scams. An interesting stranger builds a fake relationship with an unsuspecting target through phone or video calls, texts and emails. Eventually, the scammer claims to be experiencing a financial hardship — or begs for funds to come visit the love-struck victim. After money is exchanged, the scammer cuts off contact. These types of scams are tricky because scammers know how to make people feel vulnerable and how to get them to do what they want.
How do you avoid a Cupid con? Looking out for the following red flags can help protect both your heart and wallet:
- Your new friend is a constant no-show. Traveling for business, house-sitting for an out-of-state friend, visiting family far away and other last-minute schedule changes are all common excuses scammers use to avoid meeting people face-to-face. An interested girl – or boyfriend would normally want to make time to get to know you better in person. So, if a new love interest is avoiding you, it’s time to get a little suspicious.
- Their social media profiles don’t match, are very new or are nonexistent. Contact information, pictures and background information the person shares with you should match what you see on their social media profiles. A shortage of online friends and contacts, stock photos and spelling/grammatical errors can be clues that you are being wooed by a scammer.
- They ask you for money. Asking for a loan from even the closest of friends can be uncomfortable (not to mention unwise), so why would a new love be boldly asking you for cash? From medical emergencies to claims of being robbed — a romantic scammer isn’t afraid to brazenly beg. Be particularly wary of anyone asking you to send funds via wire transfer or a gift card. And never give money or share banking information with someone that you have not met in person or don’t know very well.
Cybercriminals defraud millions of people each year stealing millions of dollars from victims and continue to invade the internet using various scheme and techniques.
Their target is always our money so they will do everything to obtain private information and financial data from us. For this reason, we need to protect ourselves from their evil schemes. Here are some that might help you escape from becoming a victim.
- Destroy receipts, bank statements or invoices and important documents that contain your personal information using a paper shredder to retain its confidentiality.
- Be updated on latest modus operandi of fraudsters on ATM’s or cash machines. Before withdrawing, check the machine for any signs of tampering and if you find one, report it immediately to the police or concerned bank.
- When shopping online, consider the use of Verified by Visa or Mastercard SecureCode for added layer of security when transacting online.
- I know that you have heard this many times but once again, frequently change your passwords for extra security. Choose a password that cannot be easily guessed, I advise to create a password with a combination of number, letters, and special characters and don’t use the same password on all of your online accounts.
- Keep your personal information private. Make sure to background check the people or organization you are dealing with before giving any sensitive information to them.
- Keep track of your transactions and compare it to your bank statements. If you find an error or any unauthorized activity then contact your bank immediately to settle any suspicious activity on your account.
- Don’t be a victim of fake emails where they are asking for your bank details or offering free trials and gift coupons. Ignore emails from unknown senders and contact your bank instead for your concerns.
- Install and keep your antivirus updated. You are leaving yourself vulnerable if your antivirus software isn’t updated against the most current viruses that have been created by cybercriminals.
- Frequently check your credit file as it records details regarding all your dealings. There might be unauthorized or fraudulent activities on your credit reports so make sure to keep track of all changes.
- Make sure that your firewall is in place because hackers might steal your sensitive personal information if you don’t have a barrier between you and the internet.
As we reach the end of 2016, we can finally pause for breath and take stock of what has been a tumultuous year. Old certainties were turned on their head, new realities took their place and across business, economics, politics and society, experts were left scratching their heads in confusion.
In the area of security and fraud , there has been a consistent trend in the development of verification and authentication technology. How this trend will continue to impact the digital economy 2017 will be critical.
2016 Trends - The EMV liability shift in the US was widely predicted to see a spike in CNP (Card not Present) fraud in the US and beyond. Figures from the end of Q2 2015 to Q1 2016 (which takes in six months of post-EMV activity) suggests that there has been a 137 percent rise in CNP fraud in the US. To put this into context, between 2014 and 2015 the market saw a mere 20 percent rise in CNP fraud.
2017 Predictions - The US switch to EMV is only one-third completed, however as more and more merchants adopt EMV terminals, fraudsters will more into the CNP space resulting in a rise in CNP fraud.
2016 Trends - With 70 per cent of the UK population using mobile banking, it is now the dominant form of bank interaction for UK consumers.
2016 Trends - At a value of $15bn per year, and predicted to reach $335bn in the next decade, the global sharing economy represents one of the largest and fastest growing markets in the world. The UK sector alone is set to climb to £9bn from £500m in the next ten years.
2017 Predictions - With the recent announcement of TrustSeal, Sharing Economy UK’s initiative to boost consumer trust by requiring businesses to meet a list of ‘Good Practice Principles’ relating to things such as identity verification, product transparency and customer service, the importance of using technology to secure authentication and verification has never been more important to businesses entering the sharing economy in 2017.
A car has crucial parts that need constant monitoring to guarantee its good performance and to assure the safety of the driver and the passengers.
Listed here are some important car parts described by Tyre&Auto Southbourne Group:
Catalytic converters - It was introduced in 1993 and was integrated into petrol exhaust systems. It is built for the purpose of reducing the damaging effects of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen that are being emitted into the atmosphere. It can convert toxic gases into water vapour and less harmful gases. Make sure to have your catalytic converter checked often to make sure of the flawless condition of your car.
Brakes - It should be checked at least twice a year to assure the safety of all people concerned and to have an optimum performance for average or beyond average annual mileage cars. Obtain a cost-effective brake maintenance service with Tyre&Auto Southbourne Group brake experts. You can also find a broad range of brake systems to choose from at Tyre&Auto Southbourne depots for cars and light commercial vehicles.
Tyres - It should also be checked often to have a more comfortable ride with no more hassles of unexpected broken tyres. It is recommended to replace your tyres at the right time, but you may first ask the advice of your car service provider regarding this matter. In addition, you should properly determine the proper size and the type of tyres that suits your car better with the help of your car service provider. The lifespan of tyres could be greatly affected by the mileage of a car, the places it has been frequently used, and the driving habits of the owner.
Many Asian organizations are ill-equipped to defend their networks from cyber-attacks simply because they’ve grown complacent that attacks will not happen to them. There is a general assumption that because the organization has not experienced a breach, they are either doing the right thing, or are not a target (and therefore would continue not to be), or both. As cyber-security continues to evolve and shift, awareness has to come from within an organization, so that cyber-security is acknowledged and prioritised by employees at all levels (including those not just in IT); this will enable enterprises to truly protect themselves.
It’s best to assume that anyone and everything is an insider and, therefore, a potential insider threat. In the same way, everyone can also be a potential victim. This state of vigilance would serve modern enterprises far better than broken cyber-defense models centered on “keeping bad stuff out.”
The Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team noted a noticeable rise in ransomware infections in both Singapore and overseas. Ransomware is a type of malware that holds a victim's files, computer system or mobile device "hostage", restricting access until a ransom is paid. It spreads via malicious email attachments, infected programmes and compromised websites. Ransomware relies on the end-user paying a fee to retrieve their data or system access, and this ransom demand can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.
Ignoring Privacy settings
With the rise of social media and internet usage for personal and professional reasons, users seemingly sprint their way throughout the online universe without thinking about privacy settings. Individuals share much of their personal and sensitive information on their social media, and because of the easy accessibility to these personal information, attackers are able to take advantage of these information for malicious purposes.